Saturday, October 12, 2019

COLUMBUS AND WESTERN CIVILIZATION


October 12, 2019 is Columbus Day, 527 years after Christopher Columbus first discovered America.

Columbus discovered America from the perspective of Western civilization, whose members had not previously known of its existence. He did not discover it from the perspective of the natives—the “indigenous people”—who already lived in the Americas.

However, with a properly functioning educational system, the descendants of the natives of Columbus’s time, would today be members of Western civilization and thus join in regarding Columbus as having discovered America, for Western civilization would now be their civilization.

They would have studied and made their own the ideas and values that constitute Western civilization. Thus, they too would see the world and its history from the perspective of Western civilization.

They would have done so, just as we today see it from that perspective, not from the perspective of the savages who comprise the overwhelming majority of everyone’s ancestors.

(Just think: Man has been on earth for possibly a million years. Yet civilization as such is not more than about 5,000 years old. The 995,000 years before civilization were years of savagery.)

To the extent that the descendants of the savages of 1492 do not accept Western civilization as their own, it is the result of the educational system failing in its proper function of being the transmitter of civilization.

Instead, in the last decades, it has become the opposite, namely, “an agency working for the barbarization of youth,” as I explain in the  concluding section of this post.



WHAT IS WESTERN CIVILIZATION?


From the perspective of intellectual and cultural content, Western civilization represents an understanding and acceptance of the following:

the laws of logic; the concept of causality and, consequently, of a universe ruled by natural laws intelligible to man;

on these foundations, the whole known corpus of the laws of mathematics and science;

the individual's self-responsibility based on his free will to choose between good and evil;

the value of man above all other species on the basis of his unique possession of the power of reason;

the value and competence of the individual human being and his corollary possession of individual rights, among them the right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness;

the need for limited government and for the individual's freedom from the state;

on this entire preceding foundation, the validity of capitalism, with its unprecedented and continuing economic development in terms of division of labor, technological progress, capital accumulation, and rising living standards;

in addition, the importance of visual arts and literature depicting man as capable of facing the world with confidence in his power to succeed, and music featuring harmony and melody.

THE UNIVERSALIZABILITY OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION


Western civilization is not a product of geography. It is a body of knowledge and values.

Any individual, any society, is potentially capable of adopting it and thereby becoming “Westernized.” The rapidly progressing economies of the Far East are all “Western” insofar as they rest on a foundation of logic, mathematics, science, technology, and capitalism—exactly the same logic, mathematics, science, technology, and capitalism that are essential features of “Western” civilization.

THE OBJECTIVE SUPERIORITY OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION


The ability to acquire and disseminate knowledge provides an objective standard for judging civilizations.

Those peoples who possess a written language may be called civilized, inasmuch as writing is an indispensable means for the transmission of substantial knowledge, and thus for the accumulation of knowledge from generation to generation.

Those who possess not only a written language but also knowledge of the laws of logic and the principle of causality are in a position to accumulate and transmit incomparably more knowledge than people who possess merely the art of writing alone.

On this basis, Greco-Roman civilization is on a higher plane than any that had preceded it.

Finally, a civilization which possesses, in addition, still further fundamental applications of human reason, such as the far more extensive development and elaboration of the principles of mathematics and science, the existence of the freedoms of speech and press, and the development of a division of labor economy, is a higher civilization than even that of Greece and Rome.

The freedoms of speech and press are an essential guarantee of the individual's right to disseminate knowledge without being stopped by the fears or superstitions of any group backed by the coercive power of the state.

A division of labor economy makes possible a corresponding multiplication of the amount of knowledge which is applied to production and the meeting of the needs of human life, for such knowledge is essentially in proportion to the number of separate occupations being practiced, each with its own specialized body of knowledge.

Equally important, a division of labor economy means that geniuses can devote their talents full time to such fields as science, education, invention, and business, with a corresponding progressive increase in knowledge and improvement in human life.

WESTERN CIVILIZATION AND EDUCATION


Wherever the intellectual substance of Western civilization is known, its imparting to the minds of students is virtually coextensive with the process of education.

For the intellectual substance of Western civilization is nothing other than the highest level of knowledge attained anywhere on earth, in virtually every aspect of every field, and if the purpose of education is to impart knowledge, then its purpose is to impart Western civilization.

THE RACISM OF CONTEMPORARY EDUCATION


In earlier centuries, men of European descent observed the marked cultural inferiority of the native populations of Africa, Asia, and the Western hemisphere, and assumed that the explanation lay in a racial inferiority of these peoples.

In passing this judgment, they forgot the cultural state of their own ancestors, which was as much below their own as that of any of these peoples. Even more important, they failed to see how in accepting racism, they contradicted the essential “Western” doctrine of individual free will and individual responsibility for choices made. For in condemning people as inferior on the basis of their race, they were holding individuals morally responsible for circumstances over which they had absolutely no control.

At the same time, they credited themselves with accomplishments which were hardly their creations, but those of a comparative handful of other individuals, most of whom happened to be of the same race and who, ironically enough, often had had to struggle against the indifference or even outright hostility of the great majority of the members of their race in order to create civilization.

Today, the critics of what has come to be called “Eurocentrism” rightly refuse to accept any form of condemnation for their racial membership. They claim to hold that race is irrelevant to morality and that therefore people of every race are as good as people of every other race.

But then they assume that if people of all races are equally good, all civilizations and cultures must be equally good. They derive civilization and culture from race, just as the European racists did. And this is why they too must be called racists.

They differ from the European racists only in that while the latter started with the judgment of an inferior civilization or culture and proceeded backwards to the conclusion of an inferior race, the former begin with the judgment of an equally good race and proceed forwards to the conclusion of an equally good civilization or culture. The error of both sets of racists is the same: the belief that civilization and culture are racially determined. 

THE DEVALUATION OF KNOWLEDGE


The racism of today’s, leftist racists, which has permeated the educational system for the last several decades, implies a radical devaluation of civilization, knowledge, and education.

These new racists do not want students to study non-Western civilizations and the conditions of primitive peoples from the perspective of seeing how they lag behind Western civilization and what they might do to catch up. Study from that perspective would be denounced as seeing the world through a “Western lens.” It would be considered offensive to people of non-West- European origin.

No, what they want is to conduct the study of the various civilizations and even the state of outright savagery itself in a way that makes all appear as equal. It is assumed, for example, that black students can feel the equal of white students only if their sub-Saharan ancestors are presented as, in a fundamental sense, culturally equivalent to modern West Europeans or Americans.

Now such a program means the explicit obliteration of distinctions between levels of civilization, and between civilization and savagery. It presents ignorance as the equivalent of knowledge, and superstition as the equivalent of science.

Everything—logic, philosophy, science, law, technology—is to be ignored, and a culture limited to the level of making dugout canoes is to be presented as the equivalent of one capable of launching spaceships. And all this is for the alleged sake of not offending anyone who supposedly must feel inferior if such a monumental fraud is not committed.

This fraud is at the core of “fake education” and such offshoots of it as “fake journalism.” As a result of it, the day is coming when a college degree will be seen as a mark of stupidity—of someone fool enough to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars only to be immersed for four years in an intellectual cesspool. And then to be good for nothing but to contaminate the rest of society and help destroy Western civilization.

Colleges and universities in the United States have demonstrated such utter philosophical corruption in connection with this subject, that if there were a group of students who could be found willing to assert with pride their descent from the Vandals or Huns and to demand courses on the cultural contribution of their ancestors, the schools would provide such courses. All that the students would have to do to get their way is to act the part of their ancestors and threaten to burn down the campus.

But what best sums up everything involved is this: from now on, in the state of California, a student is to go through twelve years of public school, and the explicit goal of his education is that at the end of it, if he envisions Columbus being greeted by spear-carrying savages, and he happens not to be white, he should identify with the savages—and if he does happen to be white, and therefore is allowed to identify with Columbus, he should not have any idea of why it is any better to identify with Columbus than with the savages.

This is no longer an educational system. Its character has been completely transformed and it now clearly reveals itself to be what for many decades it has been in the process of becoming: namely, an agency working for the barbarization of youth.

This is at the base of the profound ignorance of many college and graduate students and their readiness to use physical force as an argument against intellectual opponents. In such behavior, they clearly reveal themselves already to be barbarians.

Let us celebrate today, Columbus Day, in the knowledge that we stand for Western Civilization and invite everyone to become part of it by gaining the education, above all in philosophy, history, and economics, of which they have thus far been deprived.
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This post is based on tweet-threads published on Twitter between 10/10/19 and 10/12/19 and drawn from my essay “Contemporary Education’s Racist Road to Barbarism.” The essay is available at https://amzn.to/33qbNNj for 99¢.